Fireflies! Lightning Bugs! Winged Beetles!

Fort Lewis Lodge PavilionA warm summer evening just isn’t the same without lightning bugs.

These winged beetles, also called fireflies, thrive in western Virginia, where they’re drawn to trees, fields and marshes near the natural springs, streams, rivers and pools that are plentiful in the area.

The next time you’re at Fort Lewis Lodge, watching the meadows turn into a light show, think about these few fun facts about fireflies:

Fireflies emit light mostly to attract mates, but also to communicate with each other. They might flash to defend their space, or to warn predators away. The female will usually wait in trees or bushes until she spots a male, and then flashes her light to attract him.

Adult fireflies only live long enough to mate and lay eggs. The larvae live for about a year, until the next mating season.

The light emitted from fireflies is the most efficient in the world – more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, which emit some of their energy as heat. Firefly light produces no heat.

A firefly lights up thanks to two chemicals in its tail – luciferase, an enzyme that triggers light emission and luciferin, which glows. The chemicals light up due to the presence of a third chemical, ADP, in the firefly’s body. In some species, the larvae and eggs glow, too.

The chemicals found in fireflies have been used in medical and scientific research, including to study cell changes in diseases such as cancer.  And electronic detectors fitted with the chemicals have been used to look for life in outer space.

There’s a species of fireflies found in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee that flash in synch with each other. The national park there schedules visitor viewings of the natural light show every June.

Too much light isn’t good for fireflies, which is why they’re more easily spotted in dark, natural areas free of light pollution. Artificial light interrupts fireflies’ abilities to signal each other, and that can disrupt the mating cycle. Scientists worry that’s leading to fewer fireflies.

To catch fireflies, act like them. Imitate their flashes with a flashlight or LED light, and catch them with a net. You can keep them in a jar with holes pierced in the lid (add a wet paper towel to keep it humid inside), but let them go after a day or two.

For even more information about fireflies, check out www.firefly.org.

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Jefferson Pools

Jefferson PoolsThomas Jefferson himself once soaked in the soothing waters of Bath County’s legendary hot springs, declaring the warm mineral pools the best in the country.

In 1818, Jefferson spent three weeks at the resort hotel The Homestead, visiting the springs on the property several times a day to treat his rheumatism. Also referred to as the Warm Springs Pools, the pools were later named for the third president and have drawn people from around the country for centuries – including guests of Fort Lewis Lodge. We’re located just over the mountain from this historic landmark.

The Jefferson Pools include two main buildings – the octagonal Gentleman’s Pool House, built in 1761, and the circular Ladies Pool House, added in 1836. The Gentleman’s Pool, inside a white, wooden house that is said to be the oldest spa structure in the country, holds about 43,000 gallons of constantly flowing spring water, which originates in the Allegheny Mountains.

The crystal-clear, effervescent waters have a high mineral content, making floating easy (the available foam pool noodles help, too), and stay at 98 degrees year-round. The bathhouses are airy and are open at the top as a natural way for the steam to escape the bubbly water.

Legend holds that the hot springs were first discovered by Native Americans, and later became the playground for the well-to-do. Today, visitors can “take to the waters” with the whole family or during adult-only, swimsuit-optional times. It costs $17 for an hour’s soak.

The bathhouses, sadly, are in need of repair and are on Preservation Virginia’s list of Most Endangered Historic Sites. A grass-roots group called Friends of the Pools has been trying for the past few years to get the bathhouses restored and maintained to their original splendor.

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Caryl’s Kitchen: Pumpkin Muffins

Fort Lewis Lodge mistIf you’ve ever looked around on the walls near Caryl’s kitchen, you’ve probably seen where her Fort Lewis Lodge recipes have been featured in magazines. If you ever wanted to take the time to jot them down, but weren’t able to because you were headed out to Hot Springs or down to the watering hole, here they are (follow the RECIPES tags at the bottom of each Blog post to find all the Caryl’s Kitchen recipes we’ve published).

Yield: 12 muffins or 33 mini muffins

Preparation: 10 min

Bake: 20 min

1½ cups self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ cup canned pumpkin

2 eggs

½ cup raisings

½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or 33 mini-muffin cups; set side.

In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg.

In another bowl, combine oil, pumpkin, and eggs. Add to flour mixture, stirring well. Add raisins and pecans. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full with batter.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (15 minutes for mini-muffins). Let cool in pan for 5 minutes.

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Caryl’s Kitchen: Apricot Orange Marmalade Cake & Whipped Cream

Fort Lewis Lodge Wild FlowerIf you’ve ever looked around on the walls near Caryl’s kitchen, you’ve probably seen where her Fort Lewis Lodge recipes have been featured in magazines. If you ever wanted to take the time to jot them down, but weren’t able to because you were headed out to Hot Springs or down to the watering hole, here they are (follow the RECIPES tags at the bottom of each Blog post to find all the Caryl’s Kitchen recipes we’ve published).

Apricot Orange Marmalade Cake

Yield: 1 (10-inch cake)

Preparation: 20 minutes

Bake: 40 minutes

1 (18.25-ounce) Pillsbury Moist Supreme yellow cake

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon lemon zest

 1 1/3 cups orange juice, divided

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Triple Sec, divided

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup apricot preserves

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1 recipe Caryl’s Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a Bundt cake pan; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, orange zest, 1 cup orange juice, oil, sour cream, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon liqueur. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until thoroughly blended, approximately 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

While cake bakes, combine brown sugar, remaining 1/3 cup orange juice, and butter in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Remove from heat. Add remaining 1/3 cup liqueur, stirring to combine.

As soon as cake is done while still in pan, prick entire surface with a fork or wooden pick. Spoon orange-juice mixture over cake. Let cool in pan for 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, combine preserves and marmalade. Cook over low heat until mixture melts.

Invert cake onto a serving plate. Spoon mixture over cake. Serve with Caryl’s Whipped Cream.

 

Caryl’s Whipped Cream

Yield: Approximately 1 cup

Preparation: 5 minutes

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

¾ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat cream at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add extracts. Beat well. Add confectioners’ sugar. Beat Well. Refrigerate until needed.

 

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Caryl’s Kitchen: Colorful Corn Pudding

Corn Fields Fort Lewis LodgeIf you’ve ever looked around on the walls near Caryl’s kitchen, you’ve probably seen where her Fort Lewis Lodge recipes have been featured in magazines. If you ever wanted to take the time to jot them down, but weren’t able to because you were headed out to Hot Springs or down to the watering hole, here they are (follow the RECIPES tags at the bottom of each Blog post to find all the Caryl’s Kitchen recipes we’ve published).

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Preparation: 10 minutes

Bake: 30 minutes

3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed if using frozen

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

4 eggs

½ cup diced red bell pepper

½ cup diced green bell pepper

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 11-x-7-x-2-inch casserole dish; set aside.

In a bowl, combine corn, cheese, milk, eggs, bell peppers, flour, sugar, butter, and salt. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

Bake until set and lightly golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

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Fort Lewis Lodge Earns TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence

TripAdvisor Certificate of ExcellenceWe are pleased to announce that TripAdvisor, thanks to you all, awarded Fort Lewis Lodge a 2013 Certificate of Excellence.

To be recognized by TripAdvisor because our guests have enjoyed their time here – and taken the time to tell people about it – is an incredible honor.

Now in its third year, the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award celebrates hospitality excellence and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.

Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website, with only the top 10 percent receiving the prestigious award, according to TripAdvisor.

To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, you have to maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

So a hearty thank you to our guests who have taken the time to submit a review about your stay here! Thank you!

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Caryl’s Kitchen: Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken

Fort Lewis Lodge DiningIf you’ve ever looked around on the walls near Caryl’s kitchen, you’ve probably seen where her Fort Lewis Lodge recipes have been featured in magazines. If you ever wanted to take the time to jot them down, but weren’t able to because you were headed out to Hot Springs or down to the watering hole, here they are (follow the RECIPES tags at the bottom of each Blog post to find all the Caryl’s Kitchen recipes we’ve published).

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Preparation: 10 minutes

Marinate: 2 hours

Cook: 12 minutes

2 whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces each

1 lemon, sliced

1 cup vegetable oil

½ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons crushed basil leaves

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon crushed thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon minced garlic

Place chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag or in a single layer in a large glass or ceramic casserole dish. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine lemon, oil, lemon juice, salt, basil, onion powder, paprika, thyme, and garlic. Pour over chicken pieces. Seal bag or cover dish. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat grill to Medium-High (350° to 400°).

Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade.

Grill chicken pieces over direct heat until just cooked through – wings, 5 minutes per side; legs, 8 minutes per side; breasts, 10 minutes per side; and thighs, 12 minutes per side.

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Caryl’s Kitchen: Curried Chicken Salad

Fort Lewis Lodge Kitchen PotsIf you’ve ever looked around on the walls near Caryl’s kitchen, you’ve probably seen where her Fort Lewis Lodge recipes have been featured in magazines. If you ever wanted to take the time to jot them down, but weren’t able to because you were headed out to Hot Springs or down to the watering hole, here they are (follow the RECIPES tags at the bottom of each Blog post to find all the Caryl’s Kitchen recipes we’ve published).

Yield: 12 to 15 servings

Preparation:  15 minutes

4 cups cooked & diced chicken (approximately 4 chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups cooked rice, cooled

1½ cups sliced celery

1 (15.25-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained

1½ cups diced oranges (approximately 3 oranges, sectioned)

¾ cup sliced seedless green grapes

¾ cup sliced seedless red grapes

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1¼ cups mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder

Lettuce leaves

In a large container, combine chicken, oil, orange juice, vinegar, and salt. Refrigerate while mixing the rest.

In a large bowl, combine rice, celery, pineapple, oranges, grapes, almonds, mayonnaise, and curry powder. Add chicken mixture, stirring gently. Store in refrigerator until serving time.

To serve, spoon  chicken salad onto lettuce leaves.

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Top Places to Visit While at Fort Lewis Lodge

Hiking Near Fort Lewis LodgeThere’s no doubt about it. When you arrive to our slice of land in the Shenandoah Valley, there is a lot to explore – and that’s just on the 3,200 acres of Fort Lewis Lodge alone.

Fishing on the Cowpasture River. Hiking to the overlook. Taking a dip in the swimming hole. We have it all here, along with Caryl’s cooking.

But we are extremely proud to be a part of this great area and would love for you to see what’s on the other side of the mountain, down the lane and around the bend.

Here’s a list of our favorite places to visit while you’re in town. We’ll give you a map to get you there and if you make a day trip out of exploring the region, Buck’s Bar will probably just be opening when you pull back down our lane.

  1. Jefferson Pools. Legend tells us the springs were discovered by a Native American in the 600s and visited by Thomas Jefferson in the 1800s. They say the mineral waters here are healing. Try for yourself. You’ll pay to soak for an hour, but it’s definitely an interesting spot.
  2. Hot Springs. The quaint village of Hot Springs is worth a short afternoon walk, perhaps after your Jefferson Pools soak. Pop into the wine shop, the coffee shop or the small boutique stores in town.
  3. The Homestead. Sitting on 3,000 acres, The Homestead is one of the country’s highest rated resorts. We are honored you are staying with us, but if you make your way down to Hot Springs, it’s worth a trip inside the lobby, to the shops and a walk around the resort. There’s a great deal of history there – with 21 American presidents having visited since it was built in 1766.
  4. Garth Newell Music Center. That’s right. In our little corner of the Shenandoah Valley you can find world-class chamber music. The concert hall at the Garth Newell Music Center has acoustics like you wouldn’t believe. With more than 50 concerts each year, there’s bound to be one while you’re visiting.Fort Lewis Lodge Fly Fishing
  5. Lake Moomaw. Boating. Water skiing. Swimming. Fishing. You name the water sport or activity and you can find it here.
  6. Milk House Market and Old Dairy Barn. If you want, Caryl can whip you up a lunch basket while you’re here. But if you want to drive to something off site, check out the Old Dairy Barn, circa 1928.
  7. Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery is one of nine hatcheries operated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Once you see it, you’ll believe how they produce more than 500,000 trout big enough to fish for. You can tour the hatchery on your own for free any day of the year.
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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program near the Hot Springs

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program near the Hot SpringsAs you’ve walked around the thousands of acres that make up Fort Lewis Lodge, or looked down from the overlook, ever noticed all the white poles randomly sticking out of the ground? Wonder what they are?

One thing they are not is random. In fact, in a way, for each pole we stick in the ground, we give back a little something to the land we’ve benefitted from all these years.

It’s all a part of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the largest private-land conservation program in the U.S. It’s administered by the Farm Service Agency.

So what do those white poles do, exactly? Each pole protects a tree sapling. If you look closely, the white poles are all around wetlands. The tree saplings, growing up inside the poles, were planted to help, for lack of a better word, shore up the wetlands.

Fort Lewis Lodge sits just across the mountain from Hot Springs, Va., which “Virginia is for Lovers” describes as a great blend of “resort and rural” because it’s quaint, famous for its natural mineral springs and home to The Homestead Resort. But we’re also part of an incredible natural habitat that includes the Cowpasture River, Lake Moomaw and what seems like endless Shenandoah Valley mountain streams.

Did you know sediment from eroded stream banks can degrade water quality and the habitat of animals living there? Or that forested riparian buffers – which all those trees will create as they grow strong thanks to the white poles – reduce nutrient runoff and erosion?

More trees can slow the flow of water. Leaves can act like filtration systems, capturing runoff. Then there’s shade. Shade helps control water temperature, and some organisms need just the right water temperature to thrive.

This program has helped clean up New York City’s watershed and drinking water, improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and mitigate floods in Washington State.

Let me know if you want to learn more when you’re visiting! The poles, as you might notice, do have a tendency to fall over and need to get stuck back in the ground. Extra hands are always welcome!

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